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Human Services Center nears November completion

Parents caught in the child welfare system will be able to visit with their kids, under supervision, there.

Addicts trying to free themselves from the devious clutches of drugs will be able to get help there.

One year after DISC Village broke ground on a new Franklin County Human Services Center at 150 10th Street in Apalachicola, it’s set to open by mid-November there.

Construction of the new 5,500-square-foot facility was built by Crawfordville-based Perez Construction Inc., as expected by fall 2022, at a cost of about $2 million to the Big Bend based non-profit behavioral health provider.

Much of the state and federal dollars that will go to fund the facility will be funneled through the Northwest Florida Health Network.

“It has long been a priority for us to ensure that access to treatment is increased, that staffing is localized (local jobs) and investment in infrastructure is made for future expansion,” said Mike Watkins, CEO of NWF Health Network. “Sheriff AJ Smith has been a staunch advocate for Franklin and a visionary amongst all of his peers in bridging treatment for those that are ready for change. 

“We work closely with his team to identify, assess and coordinate treatment,” he said. “This site will ultimately lead to greater coordination between criminal justice and behavioral health.”

Watkins said the new facility will lead to 30 degreed positions in the network and a handful of paraprofessionals.

DISC Village CEO John Wilson said he expects the center to start out with about a half-dozen staffers, including a full-time site supervisor there five days a week. 

The NWF Health Network will have offices there as well, a supervised visitation area and a conference room that Wilson said would be available for use by the community.

While court-ordered substance abuse treatment may figure into several clients’ lives, Wilson said the facility will be voluntary for many, all beginning with an appointment to see a counselor. “We’ll have virtual services from the facility as well,” he said. “We want to take advantage of technology.”

The degree professionals could be licensed clinical social workers, or those trained at a masters level, with certification in addiction medicine.

“Typically we shoot for masters level people,” said Wilson. 

While the facility will be entirely outpatient, clients who would be better served by DISC Village’s residential facility in Woodville will have access to it from the Apalachicola center.

“After the initial interviewing and assessment, if they need outpatient services, we can do that right there as opposed to their traveling to Crawfordville before,” Wilson said. “We realized transportation was an issue. And we can service people from surrounding counties as well.”

The new supervisor will be responsible for networking with the community and local health people. “To discover what we can do to better serve the local community,” Wilson said.

While private insurance is sometimes used, most of the clients will be charged according to a sliding scale.

“We’re obligated to do a financial assessment,” Wilson said. “There may be a small copay, and some people don’t pay anything.”

Watkins said a groundbreaking is slated for within 60 days. 

“This investment will make a dramatic difference in our community and I am optimistic that this will lead to further development of much needed resources for the people of Franklin County,” he said. 

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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